RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The existence of the Israeli state will remain a controversial topic for a thousand years, and most people have a strong opinion one way or the other. Putting it on our front page for the week was uncharacteristic of The Rio Times, mostly because we stay close to our niche of reporting on local Brazil and Rio news.

Stone Korshak, Editor and Publisher of The Rio Times.

Our all-star reporter Lucy – who is in Brasília – pitched it though and was able to get some amazing interviews and comments and give some insight into how both sides of the conflict feel about Brazil’s position. The general sense is that Brazil is more supportive of the Palestinian plight, and more critical of Israel, than some other unnamed nations.

So here is my take on it, and yes – it doesn’t take an anti-semite to decode some yid in my last name – but my interest is strictly ethnic not religious. Israel deserves to exist as a state, a haven for the oppressed refugees of history, but they need to stop expanding into these settlements and care better for their new state’s minorities.

That is simplistic of course and I am no expert, but I do read history books, watch the news and too many good and bad movies. Like a lot of people I am surprised when other people don’t see things my way, and am surprised as I travel the world how much anti-Israeli sentiment there is… maybe the Israelis need their own Barak Obama.

Borders are important, fences are important, respect for other people’s property is fundamental for a bloated population. People get angry when personal space is encroached upon (think flying coach), and when farm-lands get cut into, or other natural resources are over-run, and then… you have war.

Feudal society was all about land ownership, there was no greater measure of have and have-nots, from Russian surfs to share-croppers, the lack of land put you on the short end of the stick. Now in the global digital society you can be a billionaire without owning a single scratch of land… although not many do.

Modern society has improved the lot of those without lots, and it is an important benchmark to a more equal and just world of humanity. Yet there is still a great divide and in Brazil, known for its width of inequality, the Landless Workers Movement (the MST, or Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra) has remained a hot political topic.

In Rio, there is a growing tide of controversy over the favelas – illegal or “irregular” slum housing. Squatters setting up camp in unused and unwanted corners of the city. The problem is when they sprawl into wanted corners – like Jardim Botânico.

The most recent issue bound to test the bleeding hearts, is concern on the rustic and remote Ilha Grande, where apparently more-and-more “irregular” housing is threatening the way of life there. The other threat to the island is the state government is ready to “privatize” nineteen of the beaches… to the “haves” no doubt.

Where the borders should start and stop is all subjective and relative, but I do believe in fences, “good fences make good neighbors” as they say up on the farm. They are good when they are not used to oppress, are drawn fairly and respected equally on both sides.

Good fences make good neighbors, as they say.


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